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Report: Asian-American Elderly in Poor Economic Health

The economic health of senior Asian Americans--age 65 and up--is much worse than expected, defying a general image that portrays Asian Americans as wealthy, according to a new study released by the AARP.

The study reports that more Asian Americans 65 and older, compared to the general U.S. population of the same age, are on food stamps (14 percent vs. 9 percent); more are living at or below the poverty level (13 percent vs. 9 percent); and fewer have pensions or retirement accounts to draw on (22 percent vs. 37 percent).

Those numbers often are masked by more glowing household income numbers in the broader segment of Asian Americans, ages 50 and up. In that demographic, multi-generational families living in a single household tend to boost the group’s spending power to $60,466, the highest in the nation.

But disaggregated numbers, by age and ethnicity, show the over-65 population is much more economically vulnerable, says AARP's Daphnew Kwok.

“I think all these numbers are going to be an eye-opener,” Kwok said to NBC News. “Among policy makers especially, the Model Minority Myth continues to prevail. But these numbers are here to dispel that myth. Once people see the facts, we hope it starts to shift the perception and knowledge of the needs of our community.”

This is the second of three reports planned by AARP to educate the public on the needs of the aging community; Asian-Americans over the age of 50 are expected to grow from 4.3 million to 13.2 million over the next 40 years.

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